Coconut is a sweeping trend among many health enthusiasts, and many dog owners are sharing their coconut with their dogs. But is it safe for dogs to eat coconut? And are there any actual benefits to feeding your dog coconut? Okay, spoiler alert — yes! Coconut is safe for your dog to eat in small amounts. Coconut is full of healthy vitamins, nutrients, good fats, and carbohydrates to fuel your dog and boost its immune system.
Coconut does contain some medium-chain triglycerides, which while good for your dog, can also aggravate your dog's digestive system or cause bloating. Start with small amounts of coconut, then monitor your dog to ensure it doesn't upset your dog's stomach. Let's take a closer look!
How To Feed Coconut to Your Dog in a Healthy Manner
Before we dive deeper into the coconut benefits for dogs, let's observe a few feeding guidelines for safe coconut consumption.
Coconut Parts To Avoid
Certain coconut parts do not square with our dogs' digestive system and might lead to dangerous accidents. For example, coconut flesh, although not toxic, presents a significant calorie and fat content, which, over time, can lead to unwanted weight gain.
Likewise, the coconut shell needs to be handled with care. Although not poisonous by themselves, coconut shells represent a choking hazard for all dogs, regardless of how big they are. Furthermore, the hard surface can cause unwanted issues in the oral cavity and may even lead to tooth loss! It's best to simply remove the coconut's outer layer and allow your dog easy access to that tasty coconut meat.
Last but not least, there's no telling how your dog is going to react after eating coconut. Experts have documented cases of an increase of the endotoxin called lipopolysaccharide or LPS in dogs after coconut oil consumption, which led to increased inflammation. Such reactions, of course, do not occur in all dogs, which is why taking the time to gradually introduce coconut oil into your dog's diet and observing their reaction to it is imperative.
You can feed your dog coconut meat as long as you follow these safety guidelines:
- Do not give your dog sweetened coconut because the added sugar is unhealthy for your dog.
- Ensure you remove the husk and shell because they can be choking hazards for dogs.
- Start small and increase once you see that your dog can tolerate it.
- Feed your dog small amounts of coconut because it is high-calorie, and you don't want to exceed the recommended 10% daily caloric intake for supplements and treats.
- After feeding your dog, watch for signs of stomach pain or bloating.
If you've fed your dog too much coconut, your dog may have these symptoms:
- Greasy stools.
Does Coconut Cause Pancreatitis?
Pets with pancreatitis lack sufficient pancreatic enzymes to break down fats and cannot absorb them efficiently. For this reason, most types of fats should be strictly limited in their diet.
About two-thirds of the fats in coconut oil are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). The MCTs in coconut oil are smaller than the long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) in most fats and oils — they are digested far more rapidly. It's also important to note that MCTs do not require pancreatic enzymes for digestion. Coconut oil does not cause undue stress to the pancreas. Instead, the oil is absorbed through the portal vein and travels straight to the liver, converting it into ketones and energy.
MCTs are a valuable source of calories and can provide energy for pets on a low-fat diet. Feeding coconut oil to pets with pancreatitis helps regulate their blood sugar levels and can enhance the absorption and bioavailability of fat-soluble foods, medications, and vitamins. This is especially beneficial for pets that cannot tolerate other forms of fat in their diet. Pancreatitis is one condition that can be caused by hyperlipidemia. And since MCTs can help reduce triglyceride levels in the blood, coconut oil can reduce the risk of pancreatitis developing.
How About Coconut Water?
Canine nutritionists recommend that dogs drink 100% pure coconut water (no additives or preservatives), but with a caveat: its high potassium levels can lead to hyperkalemia (i.e., higher than normal levels of potassium in the bloodstream. So be sure to look for symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, digestive distress, and lethargy if your dog's been gulping down coconut water lately.
For that reason, it's best that dog owners save the coconut water for certain occasions, such as intense, energy-demanding activities, which can result in muscle cramps. That's when the high potassium levels (an electrolyte, by the way!) found in coconut water will come in handy.
How Much Coconut Should I Feed to My Dog?
The safest approach to feeding coconut to your dog will depend on several factors, such as their weight. On average, most canine nutritionists agree that 1 teaspoon of coconut oil or a different coconut product per 10 pounds or 1 tablespoon per 30 pounds of body weight falls between the healthy coconut intake levels. Of course, we do not recommend that you feed your dog that much coconut right off the bat. Our canine companions need time to adjust to the new dietary addition, be sure to start off slowly and increase the dosage over time.
Symptoms of Feeding Too Much Coconut
As with any ingredient of your dog's diet, the body will start exhibiting toxicity signs when a line is crossed, and coconut oil is not an exception to that rule. The clearest signs of feeding too much coconut to a dog include greasy stools, diarrhea, and lethargy. That is why introducing coconut to a dog must be a step-by-step process, especially for a dog with a sensitive stomach. The moment you notice such symptoms, take a break from feeding coconut oil and reconsider your strategy. For example, maybe your dog has been receiving single daily doses of coconut oil, which might be too much for their tummy. In that case, dividing the daily dose into multiple smaller doses will be the best approach.
Likewise, it's essential to consider how you're feeding your dog coconut oil. For example, directly ingesting coconut oil, whether solid or melted, might be too challenging for your dog's tummy. That is why mixing it up with other foods, such as fruit or Xylitol-free peanut butter, or using it for baking crackers will definitely make coconut oil easier to digest. If you're out of ideas on how to feed your dog coconut, don't worry; we have a couple of scrumptious coconut-based treats for you at the end of this article!
What Are the Health Benefits of Coconut Oil?
Now that we've discussed how and how much coconut dog owners should feed to their dogs, let's take a look at its health benefits. Coconut boasts many of the nutrients our canine friends need for a healthy life. It's got essential vitamins, minerals, and healthy plant fats, as well as:
- Manganese (a valuable nutrient for proper bone health and metabolic function);
- Antioxidants, such as selenium, and lauric acid (i. e., a medium-chain fatty acid), which deliver anti-inflammatory properties, support the immune system, and provide dogs with a healthy coat and stronger nails;
- Copper and iron for healthier blood cells.
Giving your dog coconut has the potential to fortify your dog's health and allow them to attain new levels of well-being. However, being a superfood does not mean that coconut is nutritionally all-encompassing.
There are several health benefits to adding coconut to your dog's diet:
- Reduces inflammation: Coconut contains anti-inflammatory properties that speed healing and reduce swelling around cuts, wounds, and hot spots. Coconut meat can also help relieve joint pain caused by arthritis.
- Strengthens the immune system: Coconut contains lauric acid, which fights viruses, yeast infections, ringworm, and Giardia. Coconut meat also has many antioxidants that help defend the body against bacteria, parasites, and fungi.
- Improves skin and coat: The fatty acids in coconut support a healthy coat, and the antioxidants can relieve dry, itchy skin. Coconut oil, while it shouldn't be eaten, is excellent as a topical moisturizer that can improve your dog's coat.
Coconut Oil Lacks Essential Fatty Acids Like Omega-3 and Omega-6
Coconut can help your dog enjoy a balanced diet, but not in a holistic way. Canine nutritionists often advise pet parents of the coconut oil's lack of essential fatty acids such as Omega-3 and Omega-6, which your dog's digestive system requires for proper function. So be sure to balance coconut with a healthy intake of these essential nutrients.
Coconut Oil Has Amazing Skin-Protecting Properties!
Must dogs eat coconut oil to reap its benefits? Not at all! Coconut oil can very well be used as a topical ointment to treat skin conditions such as yeast infections, hot spots, dry, itchy skin (coconut oil is a powerful moisturizer!), and flea allergies. Furthermore, you can apply it to wounds to contain inflammation and promote healing. Simply dip a towel in coconut oil and apply it to the affected skin patch. We warn you, though; your dog will definitely try to lick it off, so be sure to wrap the skin with a piece of cloth after applying the oil.
Look for Minimally Processed Coconut Oil
Now, how do you choose the healthiest type of coconut oil for your dog? It's all a matter of how the oil is processed. Our Volhard expert nutritionists recommend purchasing only minimally processed, ethically sourced coconut products. Unfortunately, only a few places in the world produce genuine coconut oil, such as the Philippines, Indonesia, and Brazil, so be sure that the oil you purchase for your dog is produced in these countries.
Furthermore, look for unrefined or virgin coconut oil that's been cold-pressed without being bleached or deodorized. Cheaper oil versions include chemicals like chlorine and hexane in the refining process, which your dog's tummy will not welcome. Does your grocery store sell a gallon and a half of coconut milk for $2? Do your furry friend a favor and avoid it altogether.
Recipes for Coconut Dog Treats!
Now that we're approaching the end of this article, it's time to own up to our promise and share some yummy coconut treat recipes with you! Our selection of treats includes both baked and no-bake options, so feel free to choose the one you think your dog will like best!
- 1/3 cup of coconut oil;
- 2-3 tablespoons of peanut butter;
- 2 1/2 cups of rolled oats;
- 1/3 cup of finely shredded coconut.
How to Prepare:
- Process the oil, peanut butter, and rolled oats in a food processor and mix thoroughly.
- Roll bite-sized pieces into little balls.
- Coat the balls in the shredded coconut.
- Store the treats in the fridge for 30 minutes and serve to your dog.
- 1 ½ cups of brown rice flour;
- ½ cup of coconut flour;
- ½ cup of water;
- 1 egg;
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil.
How to Prepare:
- Heat the oven up to 350 F.
- Mix the coconut and brown rice flour in a mixing bowl.
- Make a well in the middle of the flours, and add the water, egg, and coconut oil.
- Mix the ingredients until they get a crumbly look.
- Knead the dough until it becomes a dough ball.
- Put the dough ball between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll dough to about 1/4" thick. Stamp with cookie cutters and place biscuits on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Flip the treats and bake for another 5 minutes.
- Let the treats cool, and feed them to your dog.
Let Your Dogs Have Coconut Once in a While!
The question is coconut good for dogs now has a definitive answer: yes, and your dog will love it! Coconut has all the benefits and nutrients it needs to deserve a solid place in your dog's diet. That is why we recommend you consider dog food with a healthy amount of coconut in its composition, such as the Volhard Rescue Diet! But be sure not to feed your dog sweetened coconut or other subpar products that might jeopardize their health. For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us and check out our blog!
Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert nutritionists are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why, what, and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods! Speaking to a Volhard nutritionist will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. If you're interested in contacting one of our Volhard nutritionists, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!